In the December 28, 2018 edition of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Esther Kinsky, acclaimed author of River and Hain, chose A Lesser Day as her favorite book of 2018:

“In A Lesser Day (German edition: Wie viele Tage, Droschl 2018), Andrea Scrima addresses, with poetic intensity, alienation and non-belonging as a state of mind in a life lived between two locations toward the end of the twentieth century. The first-person narrator—an artist—was born in New York and lives in Berlin; occasionally, she returns home to her native city. Without giving rise to an hierarchy of impressions, the narrator records everyday life between the present and a remembered past in miniatures that brim with sensory input. Everything is equally important, like the components in a mosaic. The resulting whole, both subtle and haunting, is made up of fragments of fragile places. The density of moods is remarkable; it allows the weather, light, smells, and colors to become physically alive.”

— Esther Kinsky

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Read the interview here.

 

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David Krippendorff: Without wanting to sound naive, first and foremost I hope that my work has a strong emotional impact. Every initial idea I ever had for a piece always started with an emotional reaction to something, be it a film or a piece of music. Throughout the process, I then conceptualize it and parse out the various political subtexts and interpretive layers. I do think that all art is political, but I am also a great believer that art should be more visceral. We live in times in which nobody trusts their feelings anymore; our society is becoming increasingly cerebral. I think this is a very dangerous trend, because remaining in touch with one’s feelings is also the first step toward empathy. When we’re detached, it becomes much easier to turn a blind eye to injustice; we fail to see the humanity in a homeless person we pass by on the street. I strongly believe that the role of art should be to help people get in touch with their feelings. To me, this becomes political, and it’s the only way that it can have an impact and make a change. We have enough “interesting” art, but how often does somebody go to a show and say: “That was really moving,” or “That was beautiful”?

New essay up on 3QuarksDaily.

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“Letting You in on a Secret is a work that reflects on this very depletion of language and mass imagery, a work that proposes and articulates new and surprising ways to recalibrate our perception, to shake ourselves and our stunned senses awake. DeLuccia’s formal reference to Dada provides us with an important clue to the work’s subtly subversive nature: in citing a movement that would presage and then endure the advent of fascism, mass extermination, and world war, she is pointing to the necessity of encoding explosive cultural commentary in humor and visually appealing imagery, of going underground with it, as it were—both to protect one’s powers of perception and to counter the effects of the spellbinding that numbs us to the dangers facing us.”

On a panel at the Literarisches Colloquium Berlin. Berlin Polylingual—Parataxe Symposium IV. 

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Photo: Graham Hains.

Ich möchte gerne mit einer Behauptung anfangen: Eine deutsche Nationalliteratur muss nicht unbedingt auf Deutsch geschrieben sein.

Zahlreiche nichtdeutschsprachige Autoren, von denen viele seit Jahrzehnten in Deutschland leben, haben ihre Verlage, ihre gesamte Infrastruktur, ihre Leser hier. Nicht wenige werden primär im deutschsprachigen Raum wahrgenommen; die meisten bewegen sich zwischen Kulturen und sind als Essayisten, Kritiker, Moderatoren, usw. aktiv im Austausch zwischen den Sprachen. Dies alles übt einen enormen Einfluss auf die deutschsprachige Literatur aus und beleuchtet auch Themen in der Gesellschaft und der Politik, die vielleicht nur von „vertrauten Fremden“ beleuchten werden können.

Und doch: angesichts der immer fremdenfeindlicher werdenden Atmosphäre, angesichts der Tatsache, dass die AfD die Kultur als Kampffeld für sich entdeckt hat und nun u.a. die Strategie der parlamentarischen Anfragen verfolgt, um sozialkritische Arbeiten zu diffamieren und die Kulturförderung an sich immer wieder in Frage zu stellen, ist eine derartige Behauptung höchst politisch.

— full text to be published soon.

 

With Martin Jankowski, Eugen Ruge, Anne Fleig, and Mitja Vachedin. 

LBC panel 2

LCB panel

Photos: Graham Hains.

An excerpt from my piece “all about love, nearly” has been included in the anthology “Strange Attractors,” published by University of Massachusetts Press.

Strange Attractors

Has a stunning surprise or lucky encounter ever propelled you in an unanticipated direction? Are you doing what you always thought you would be doing with your life or has some unseen magnetism changed your course? And has that redirection come to seem inevitable? Edie Meidav and Emmalie Dropkin asked leading contemporary writers to consider these questions, which they characterize through the metaphor of “the strange attractor,” a scientific theory describing an inevitable occurrence that arises out of chaos. Meidav’s introduction and the thirty-five pieces collected here offer imaginative, arresting, and memorable replies to this query, including guidance from a yellow fish, a typewriter repairman, a cat, a moose, a bicycle, and a stranger on a train. Absorbing and provocative, this is nonfiction to be read in batches and bursts and returned to again and again.

For review copies, contact Courtney Andree at the University of Massachusetts Press at cjandree@umpress.umass.edu. For other queries, contact the editors at strangeattractors1@gmail.com.

 

Press and Reviews

“A wonderful book, unique in all ways, truly and deeply full of wonder.  What a stunning constellation of seekers, believers, wanderers, questioners.  A collective spiritual autobiography like nothing I’ve read before.” — Elisa Albert, author of After Birth

Strange Attractors reminds us that even chaos has a pattern, and now more than ever, we are grateful for it. Attraction is evidence of the sublime. The very idea sparks revelation.” — Annie Liontas, editor of A Manner of Being: Writers on Their Mentors

“Chance—the charm of chance—that permeates these stories is startling, often dazzling, and always life-affirming. You’ll wish most of these talented women writers were your friends.” —Susan Fox Rogers, author of My Reach: A Hudson River Memoir

“Urgent and reflective, infused with a revelatory grace, Strange Attractors is a wondering wander of a book, a curiosity shop of stories filled with surprise and clarity, longing and transformation. Lyrical, experimental, or conversational, this collection’s voices explore encounters that change the course of our lives.” —Cathy Chung

I’ll be taking part in a panel today on language diversity in the literatures of Berlin.

Come to the Literarisches Colloquium in Wannsee! 

4:30 – 6 p.m.
PANEL III
: Berliner Futur – entropische Literaturen?
Keynote: Anne Fleig
Participants: Andrea ScrimaEugen RugeMitja VachedinAnne Fleig
Moderation: Martin Jankowski
Featured Poet: Amora Bosco

Read the full program here. Parataxe

A conversation with Patricia Thornley published on 3QuarksDaily

08still from The Western, 2018

From November 17, Patricia Thornley’s work The Western, part of her series THIS IS US, is on view as part of the group exhibition “Empathy” at Smack Mellon Gallery in Brooklyn, New York. The project is the latest in a seven-year series of installation and single-channel video works consisting of interviews and performances. Previous videos of the series are An American in Bavaria (2011), Don’t Cry for Me (2013), and Sang Real (2015). As a whole, THIS IS US  formulates multiple parallel inquiries into the collaborative fantasies Americans enact through popular media. In the current political climate, as the escalation of social and economic forces impacting millions of lives is cast into increasingly sharp relief, these fantasies take on new urgency and, in many cases, a new absurdity.

The Western’s cast of characters consists of these Civil War-era archetypes: Indian Scout, Beast of Burden, Frontiersman, Savage, Deserter, Justice, and Drifter. The work is conceived as a two-part installation in which the cinematic trope of the Western is used as a framework for inquiring into the American psyche. In the exhibition space, a projected “movie” is installed opposite a wall of screens playing a series of interviews with the seven participating characters.

Andrea Scrima: Patricia, a few years ago I conducted an interview with you about a previous work of yours, Sang Real (2015), for the online poetry magazine Lute & Drum. Now, with The Western, the overall structure of THIS IS US is coming more and more clearly into focus. The last time we spoke at length about your series was a year and a half before the last presidential election. How have recent changes on the political landscape affected your approach to the themes in your work?

Patricia Thornley: From the beginning in the THIS IS US series, one of the questions I asked in my interviews with the people who featured in the individual videos was “how do you feel about being an American?” Historically, there’s always been a certain political disconnect at play with Americans, due to less armed conflict on our own soil and a certain comfort level.

I didn’t ask this question because I was trying to be instructive, but because one of the most important aspects of my work is to observe opposing and conflicting states of consciousness and to create situations that attempt a kind of uncommon reconciliation of these states. So in terms of what has changed I would say that what I was perceiving as a state of unconsciousness (pre-Trump) has been pushed to the surface by outrage and fear.

Read the interview on 3QuarksDaily here

 

Tuesday,  Oct 30 – 6:00 PM  STAT®REC SLAM #1 

Andrea Scrima;  David Winner;  Erik Rasmussen;  

Jennifer Franklin;  Phineas Lambert;  Uche Nduka 

29 Cornelia Street, NYC

STAT®REC SLAM #1 image

Come celebrate our first public event ever and applaud our intrepid readers! 

Statorec, deemed “The impetuous radicalism of literary upstarts” by The New York Times and, more recently, “The snob’s solution to the Internet’s democratizing influence on the arts” by Entertainment Weekly, is an online literary magazine of fiction, poetry, criticism, and non-fiction that offers a statement of record to the new century. 

Our cultural and political agenda: Total world domination for artists! 

Come one, come all! And if you clap (and drink) enough, we’ll be back for #2!

 

Cornelia Street 29, NYC

Read the interview here.

“The novel oscillates between mediated reflection, immediate perceptual state, and, later on, madness. This stage of perception does entirely without any sort of explanation. It’s about immediacy. The self is fully within it, there’s no help from without, no visible motive to reconstruct reflection a posteriori. That’s how it is with our perception. To my mind, when it comes to language, things start to get interesting. We trust reflection and reason so much more. Pure perception is trusted less, but insanity is never trusted. In the novel, we have an unreliable narrator telling the story after it’s already occurred. You might assume that the events were reflected upon and are now related through this conscious filter. But that’s not the case. Only in madness can you see what’s actually going on. The body itself speaks, unfiltered, directly. It’s a huge, profound immediacy that we can’t rationally grasp. It’s another language, like the language of dreams. You want to decode it, but there’s no code. In the novel, it presents as a primordial language, as opposed to a verbal one: a language of images that exerts its effect directly. It just does this, and the reader has to surrender to it to get any closer.”

Ally Klein Portrait_03_by Pezhman Zahed.jpg

Ally Klein

Mainz logo

Read the full article here in German language. 

“Das Besondere und das Wunderbare an diesem Roman ist, dass es Scrima mit dem Ausdrucksmittel der Sprache gelungen ist, uns die Funktionsweise des Erinnerungsprozesses wirklich erfahrbar und erlebbar zu machen. Denn anstatt eines sinnvoll geordneten und strukturierten Narrativs präsentiert sie uns mit Wie viele Tage eine Textkomposition, die ebenso wenig ordnet und sinnvoll kategorisiert, wie unser Gedächtnis, wenn es sich der Gegenwart enthebt, um sich vergangenen Erlebnissen zuzuwenden. Unsere Erinnerungen sind sprunghaft, sie schwimmen von einem Bild zum nächsten. Und von Bedeutung sind meist die einfachen Dinge: die Möbelstücke, mit denen wir eine bestimmte Phase unseres Lebens assoziieren, die Erinnerung an unser Gefühl, dass wir gerne all unseren Besitz an einem Ort beisammen hätten, damit wir uns selbst nicht mehr wie ständig auf der Reise zu fühlen. Die Weltgeschichte erscheint in dem Leben des Einzelnen meist nur am Horizont, während es unser Leben in den eigenen vier Wänden und unsere Wahrnehmung der direkten Umgebung ist, das unser Sein bestimmt und beeinflusst. Für all dies steht dieser lyrische Roman, der durch den Einfluss der bildenden Kunst dahingehend auf wunderbare und einmalige Weise befruchtet wird, dass kraft der Sprache tatsächlich visuelle Bilder vor unserem geistigen Auge entstehen.”

Translation:

“The remarkable and wondrous thing about this novel is that Scrima has succeeded in using the expressive means of language to enable us to experience, at close hand, the ways in which the process of remembering actually functions. Instead of a meaningfully structured narrative, A Lesser Day presents us with a text composition that orders and categorizes as seldom as our memory when it leaves the present tense to attend to past experience. Our recollections are skittish; they jump from one image to another. And it’s usually the simplest things that wind up taking on importance: pieces of furniture we associate with a certain phase of our lives; the memory of having longed to have all our possessions in one place at last, to stop feeling as though we were constantly on the road. In this individual’s life, world history generally makes an appearance at a distance, while it’s the lives we lead within our own four walls and our perception of our immediate surroundings that shape and determine our existence. This lyrical novel, enriched in a unique and wonderful way by the influence of art, stands for all this; indeed, the power of language gives rise to visual images that rise up before the mind’s eye.”

 

 

File under Spoken vs. Written:

My wonderful editor at Literaturverlag Droschl, Christopher Heil, interviewed me about my book, A Lesser Day (Wie viele Tage). Actually, we were really just trying to prepare for a reading at the Leipzig Book Fair this past March, and when we saw that we’d written I don’t know how many pages of questions and answers, we realized that, up on stage, it would all be useless to us and that we’d have to wing it. Why don’t we turn this into a written interview, I asked. OK, he answered — and here it is, translated into English on 3QuarksDaily.

 

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